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Unlocking the Power of Contentment: Exploring the Meaning of Santosha in Yoga

Beth Bradford

Jan 24, 2023

Santosha is about finding abundance around you rather than focusing on what you desire.

When we think of yoga, the first thing that comes to mind is usually the physical postures, or asanas. But there are five essential observances or niyamas that form the foundation of a yoga practice, and santosha, or contentment, is one of them.

Santosha is about finding contentment in whatever situation we find ourselves. We don't need to look for it outside of ourselves, it is already within us. This can be a challenge in our busy, constantly-connected world, but with a little practice we can learn to find peace and contentment even in the most challenging situations.

About Yoga Philosophy

Yoga is a spiritual, physical and mental practice that originated in ancient India. The philosophy of yoga is rooted in the belief that the individual self (Atman) is ultimately identical to the ultimate reality (Brahman). The ultimate goal of yoga is to achieve a state of union or oneness with the divine, through the cultivation of self-awareness, self-discipline and the release of negative patterns and emotions that bind the individual self to the cycle of reincarnation (Samsara).

Yoga philosophy also emphasizes the importance of living in accordance with the principles of nonviolence (ahimsa), truthfulness (satya), non-stealing (asteya), self-restraint (brahmacharya), and non-covetousness (aparigraha).

The practice of yoga includes a wide range of techniques such as physical postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), meditation (dhyana), and the study of spiritual texts (such as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali) as well as the development of virtues and ethics.

Yoga is believed to be a path to self-discovery, self-transcendence, and ultimately liberation from the cycle of birth and death (Moksha).

What Is the Niyama Santosha?

The niyama of Santosha is about finding contentment in the present moment. Yoga philosophy teaches that contentment is one of the most important keys to happiness and fulfillment in life.

Santosha is one of the five niyamas, or ethical principles, in yoga. It is the practice of being content with what you have, both materially and spiritually. It is the recognition that everything in life is temporary and that you can be happy no matter what your circumstances are.

Santosha is all about being content with what you have, instead of always wanting more. When you focus on the present moment, you are able to appreciate the small things in life and find happiness in your everyday experiences.

Santosha is also about accepting yourself for who you are, faults and all. It is about being at peace with yourself, both mentally and emotionally.

Santosha is the yoga niyama (moral discipline) of contentment. It means finding joy and satisfaction in what we have, rather than always longing for what we don't have. It is the practice of being present in the moment and appreciating what we have, both materially and emotionally.

Santosha is not about resigning ourselves to our lot in life, but about finding joy and happiness in the simple things. It is about being grateful for what we have, even when life is difficult.

The practice of santosha is not easy, but it is ultimately rewarding. When you can be content with what you have, you are free to focus on what is truly important in life.

Practicing Santosha in Yoga

Practicing santosha in your yoga practice can bring a sense of peace and contentment to your life. The most important thing is to be mindful of your actions and attitude. You don't have to change who you are or where you are right now but you do have to examine yourself and be open to growth, understanding, and acceptance.

Focus on being present in the moment and don't worry about what happened yesterday or what is going to happen tomorrow. Learn to be content with the life you are living and trust that all things are happening for a reason. Appreciate the beauty around you, intern all the small moments, and be open to learning new things about yourself.

Integrating Santosha Into Daily Life

Integrating santosha into your daily life can be a powerful way to unleash the power of contentment and find deeper peace and joy in your life. By practicing santosha, you can learn to accept and appreciate the present moment, cultivate gratitude for what is available to you, and choose to focus on what brings you joy. 

To practice santosha, begin by taking time each day to slow down and reflect on what brings you contentment. Reflect on what you have in your life that brings joy and fulfillment, rather than focusing on what is missing or lacking. 

Try to direct your energy towards being appreciative of what is available to you in this moment. Choose actions that bring joy or contentment instead of those that lead only to frustration or stress. Practice patience with yourself and with others, especially if things don’t go as planned. Lastly, let go of the need to control or strive for perfection; honor yourself exactly where you are right now!

Overcome Resistance to Change With Santosha

Practicing Santosha can help you to overcome resistance to change. We often become resistant to new ideas, experiences, and ways of thinking that are different from our own. This resistance can prevent us from growing and evolving as human beings, so it's important to learn how to move forward with an open mind.

Santosha encourages us to accept the present moment in all its imperfections and find contentment within it. When we stay present and let go of our attachments, we can become much more open-minded and less resistant to life changes. This in turn helps us to grow and evolve with grace, rather than feeling weighed down by fear or trepidation about the unknown.


In sum, Santosha is all about contentment and being okay with what is. It's a state of mind that allows you to live in the present and be happy with what you have. It's not always easy to find Santosha in our hectic lives, but it's a valuable state to strive for. When you find Santosha, you find peace and happiness.

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